USMC Pressed Fiber Helmet – Training Helmet and More

A color photo showing US Marines training while wearing the pressed fiber sun helmet

A color photo showing US Marines training while wearing the pressed fiber sun helmet

When the helmet of the United States Marine Corp in World War II is discussed it is likely the M1 steel helmet with the famous herringbone twill cover. But in fact this wasn’t the only helmet used by the USMC.

The pressed fiber sun helmet – which was first adopted by the USMC on October 1, 1940 – saw use throughout the Second World War.

Two soldiers wearing the pressed fiber helmet while off duty. Note the typical USMC EGA (Eagle, Globe, Anchor)

Two soldiers wearing the pressed fiber helmet while off duty. Note the typical USMC EGA (Eagle, Globe, Anchor)

Two companies, Hawley Products Company and International Hat Company, manufactured the helmets and more than 100,000 were produced. According to Alec S. Tulkoff in his book Grunt Gear the average price of these was $1.35.

David Rickenbacker during USMC training c.1943

David Rickenbacker during USMC training c.1943

While the pressed fiber helmet saw use by all branches of the military it is most recognized as a helmet of the USMC. In fact, it was widely used as a training helmet while production of the M1 steel helmet was ramped up.

Another shot of off duty Marines wearing the distinctive helmet

Another shot of off duty Marines wearing the distinctive helmet

The pressed fiber helmet was actually officially adopted and entered service prior to the M1 helmet, while it remained in service with the US Navy until the 1990s, more than a decade after the M1 helmet was retired from service. This makes the pressed fiber helmet one of the longest serving types of US Military headgear. It saw use in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada and even Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Col. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle giving a bayonet class at Parris Island Recruit Training Depot, S.C. in

Col. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle giving a bayonet class at Parris Island Recruit Training Depot, S.C.

Peter Suciu

6 thoughts on “USMC Pressed Fiber Helmet – Training Helmet and More

  1. Pingback: USMC Tropical Pith Helmet. Authentic? at War relics forum

  2. Rennie

    I bought one myself in California in 1994. I still use it today after so many countless monsoon episodes and searing heat in the tropics.

    Reply
  3. drew rosser

    Were there any differences between the International Hat Company and Hawley Products Company models? I’ve seen photos where the sides have either five (2 top 3 bottom) or six (2 top 4 bottom) ventholes. Did this change between manufacture dates or interwar period or do they distinguish manufacturer?

    Thank you,
    Drew Rosser

    Reply
  4. drew rosser

    Greatly appreciated. I was able to determine the sun helmet I was looking at to be authentic. It has 6 grommets per side, and five folds in the faux puggaree. The inside is labeled International Hat Company with the date January 28, 1941 and QM (quarter master) number. Liner band, chinstrap and material all match the IHC model shown in the pictures, although the interior is green.

    Thank you,
    Drew Rosser

    Reply
  5. Andrew deRussy

    Are they resilient in the rain? I would expect pressed fiber to lose its structure one wetted over and over. I would also expect it to be resilient is approved for military use. I’m afraid to wear mine in the rain if it will damage it…but I really want to wear it in the rai !

    Reply

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